Celebrating Juneteenth


Brooke Diamond

Demonstrations took place throughout the United States to commemorate Juneteenth.

Neil Mehta, Editor-in-Chief

On Friday, communities throughout the United States celebrated Juneteenth, an event commemorating the emancipation of enslaved Americans. The day June 19th dates back to 1865, when the Union arrived in Texas to proclaim that former slaves were freed—two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. 

Continuing the momentum of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, this year’s Juneteenth was met with increased awareness from individuals, state legislatures, and corporations. The heightened awareness for Juneteenth was most seen in urban centers. Celebrations and demonstrations took place in cities such as Oakland, Chicago and Seattle. In Washington DC, protestors marched to demand equity in education for Black students. 

Heightened awareness spread online as well. According to Google Trends, the term “Juneteenth” reached its maximum search interest in the past 15 years on June 19th. On Facebook, American users created fundraisers for the Equal Justice Initiative, Innocence Project and Thurgood Marshall College Fund. To celebrate Juneteenth, Facebook pledged to donate $19 for every fundraiser created, up to $5,000,000. 

Leading up to Friday, activists throughout the United States urged legislators to recognize Juneteenth nationwide. In response, U.S. Congress members recently proposed a bill to establish the celebration as a national holiday. 

State legislators responded as well. On Wednesday, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday for state employees. On June 19th, state employees received paid leave.

Several businesses commemorated Juneteenth this year. Corporations such as Nike, Target, and Twitter recognized Juneteenth as a company holiday, with many announcing paid leave, holiday pay or store closures. 

American ice cream manufacturer Ben & Jerry’s has received attention for their response to both Juneteenth and the Black Lives Matter movement. To commemorate Juneteenth, Ben & Jerry’s called for defunding the police earlier today on Twitter

Defund the police, defend Black communities! This #Juneteenth, it’s more important than ever that we dismantle the racist and ineffective model of American policing. Learn more about how defunding the police works and why we so desperately need it: https://benjerrys.co/37EUU4C


Americans, overall, seem to favor celebrating Juneteenth nationwide. A recent YouGov poll asked 5,000 American adults if they believe Juneteenth should be a national holiday. 45% of individuals agreed, 31% disagreed and 24% responded “Don’t know.” Younger Americans overwhelmingly supported the idea: 63% of adults of ages 25-35 years agreed that Juneteenth should be a national holiday. 

On its 155th anniversary, Juneteenth 2020 witnessed legislative change at the state and federal level. Although it’s still unclear whether Juneteenth will be adopted as a national holiday, the shifting attitudes of national corporations and state legislatures have changed the nature of the celebration substantially.